t’s not hard to miss the recent resurgence of this expressive art form on the streets of downtown Manhattan and Booklyn. From the nooks and crannies off Lafayette, Elizabeth and Williamsburg to the alphabet streets... it’s thriving. This form of self-expression has immediacy, emotional impact and a voice in the current turbulent economic climes, which gives voice in an era of the occupy movement.
Mega famous cult street artist Banksy, whose clever, tongue-and-cheek style has graced many a wall or celebrity home, may have some hand in this latest surge. Newer , London street artist Stik, who is known for his, wait for it…stick figures, and has also garnered a cult following among Londoners and celebrities. Stik, who 18 months ago was homeless, now has work that sells for thousands of pounds and hangs in the homes of Sir Elton John, Bono, and the Duke of Kent. The truth is we are all creators and in some cases not even homelessness can stop this expression from finding an outlet. Jean-Michel Basquiat’s career lays claim to this further.
Street style and inturn fashion has always been the first to accept and cannibalize the graffiti art form. Its evolution in fashion is evident with early jackets and clothing painted by original graffiti artists Haze, Cey, Phade and Lady Pink. Further artist collaborations, such as that between Stephen Sprouse and Louis Vuitton, and Keith Haring and Vivienne Westwood have flourished, and extended to high fashion interpretations of the style by designers Martin Margiela, Viktor & Rolf, Moschino, Marc Jacobs and Walter van Bierendonck, to name a few. More recently it continues to be commodified by its close association with hip-hop music and skate culture.
Whatever you want to call it, wall art, street art, graffiti, has always been in existence and Herzog’s year old film, “Cave of Forgotten Dreams,” gives movie goers a glimpse of 32, 000 year old cave art, while never letting us forget that these ancient French paintings represent the awakening of the modern human soul and are proof of how intrinsically human the artistic impulse is. This inclination is alive today and in fact the latest hybrid of street art developing is now not limited to a static wall, but has leaped off from bricks and found a new canvas...the truck. A mobile mutation and one might say the lack of censorship might classify this as the new punk rock ! Perhaps it’s time for city graffiti tours!